Problem solving is an important part of STEM education. It enhances students’ abilities to think critically about the world, become better innovators, and eventually be more successful in the workforce. To best support students, it is necessary to find relevant, real-world problems to apply to your classroom. Where do you find these opportunities? In this post, we’ll explore the options.
If you look around, often there are problems to be solved in your own school. Perhaps the lunch line is inefficient, or the recycling program could do more to cut down on waste. Little problems like this can be observed from taking a stroll through the hallways and looking for things that could stand to be improved. Another effective way to discover problems within the school is to go to school board meetings. These address concerns within the corporation, and something may catch your attention that your class could address. By developing ways to solve these problems, students will see the benefits first hand within the school and their projects will leave them feeling accomplished.
Small Community Businesses
Outside of the school, try looking at the needs of your local community. Go to city hall meetings and listen to the concerns of townspeople. These could spark ideas for ways that students could not only enhance their problem-solving skills but also do some good in the community. In addition to meetings, check around with local businesses. Talk to employees and patrons to see if there are problems that students could help to address. This would offer an opportunity for collaboration within the community, making a career connection to what they are learning.
Local Nature Spots
When looking for environmental problems to address, traveling to local nature spots, such as the community park is a good place to start. By exploring, problems with pollution or protecting the wildlife can often be found, connecting students to innovative ways of protecting the environment. These types of real-world problems are often easy to address in the classroom because there are a variety of solutions to them.
No matter where you find the real-world problems for your students to address, you can be sure they will benefit from the learning experience. There’s nothing to lose. Branch out and begin looking for problems to solve together today.
For more information on problem solving using real-world problems in your classroom, check out this resource: Approaching Community Problems in STEM Lessons.